By Charles Curcio, Sports Editor
Sunday, October 26, 2013 —
Anticipation for the matchup this season between the football squads of Albemarle and North Stanly ran so high that the numbers of tickets sold ahead of time reached well over the 1,500 mark.
Extra bleachers brought in for the game were filled to capacity as the visiting Bulldogs looked to keep their long win streak versus North alive while the host Comets vied to stop that streak.
An effective offensive attack combined with a strong effort by the “Oak Tree” defense led Albemarle to a 41-0 win over North Stanly.
The win for Albemarle (6-3, 5-1 YVC) was the Bulldogs’ 20th straight over the Comets (6-3, 4-2) and 27 wins over the past 28 games.
Albemarle’s shutout win was the fourth by the Bulldogs over the Comets in six seasons and the 14th lifetime shutout in the series between the two programs.
K.J. McKinney led the ground assault for the Bulldogs with 116 assault for the Bulldogs with 116 net yards on 20 carries and three touchdowns. For the game, Albemarle had 244 yards on 40 carries, averaging 6.1 yards per rushing attempt.
Through the air, senior quarterback Bryan Blanton was efficient, completing 8-of-14 passes for 148 yards and one touchdown. Travis Bennett hauled in that touchdown pass, leading the Bulldogs’ receiving corps with 68 yards on three catches.
On the other side of the ball, Albemarle’s defense posted its fifth shutout in six Yadkin Valley Conference games this season.
The Bulldogs held North running back Antonio Williams to his lowest yardage total of the season while limiting the Comets to 131 net yards of offense.
Albemarle also sacked North quarterback Meleek Thomas four times, three by E.J. Pemberton and one from Kani Sellers.
Junior defensive lineman Lee Autry led the Bulldogs with 16 tackles while linebacker Andre Ridenhour added 12 tackles.
The Bulldogs also picked off two North passes, with Bennett and Terrace Ellis garnering interceptions for Albemarle.
Penalties were a huge factor in the outcome as well as North Stanly was flagged 13 times for 134 yards, including twice on the Bulldogs’ first scoring drive.
On that drive, the Bulldogs went 69 yards on eight plays, twice getting first downs on Comet penalties. McKinney scored the first of his touchdowns from 10 yards out and Mason Krol’s extra point put the Bulldogs on the board.
On North’s next possession, the Comets drove from the North 18 to the Albemarle 41-yard line, but Thomas was picked off by Bennett, who returned the ball to the 30-yard line.
Six plays later, assisted by a 38-yard Bennett catch on the drive, McKinney scored right through the middle of the line, capping off a six-play, 70-yard drive.
Albemarle made it 21-0 four minutes into the second with an 11-play, 4:28 drive as Blanton scored on a quarterback keeper.
Blanton then found Bennett open in the endzone to make it 28-0 on the Bulldogs’ next possesion, scoring on four consecutive drives.
In the third, the Bulldogs cashed in on a second Comet interception one play later when Germarcus Sellers scored on a 42-yard misdirection play.
Albemarle’s final touchdown came in the fourth quarter on a 7-play, 70-yard drive, with McKinney scoring from a yard out.
“We were able to work our game on both sides,” Albemarle head coach Seth Smith said, noting that the team’s game plan was to stop Williams, whom Smith called “a hard-nosed runner” and “a tough kid.”
Smith also talked about the Bulldogs’ offensive line, saying, “They are a work in progress and are coming together. We thought we could throw the ball if we could give Bryan some time, which is exactly what happened.”
The Bulldogs play at Union Academy (5-3, 4-2) while North Stanly travels to South Stanly (3-6, 3-3) on Friday night at 7:30 (see related story, 1C).
A 14 14 7 6 41
NS 0 0 0 0 0
A – K.J. McKinney 10 run (Mason Krol kick), 7:16, 1st
A – McKinney 21 run (Krol kick), 1:45, 1st
A – Bryan Blanton 1 run (Krol kick), 8:06, 2nd
A – Travis Bennett 12 pass from Blanton (Krol kick), 4:26, 2nd
A – Germarcus Sellers 42 run (Krol kick), 1:24, 3rd
A – McKinney 1 run (Krol kick), 6:00, 4th
1st Downs 23 8
Rushing 40-244 33-106
Passing 148 25
C-A-I 8-14-0 3-17-2
Punts 4-36.0 8-35.9
Penalties 6-50 13-134
Fum.-Lst. 4-0 0-0
3rd Down 2-7 1-12
4th Down 1-1 2-3
TOP 21:36 26:24
Rushing: A – McKinney 20-116, 3 TD; Blanton 8-17, TD; Stanback 5-64; Mack 3-12; Sellers 1-42, TD; Autry 1-4; Harris 1-1; TEAM 1-(-12). NS – Williams 18-85; Thoms 7-4; Riggins 5-0; Clark 1-10; Moore 1-4; Sloan 1-3.
Passing: A – Blanton 8-14, 148 yds., 1 TD. NS – M. Thomas 3-17, 25 yds., 2 int.
Receiving: A – Bennett 3-68, TD; Sellers 2-19; White 1-48; McKinney 1-12; Ridenhour 1-1. NS – Almond 1-13; Caulder 1-7; Riggins 1-5..